If retailers were psychic, would it take all the fun out of shopping?

Posted by joe

psychic-readingsAs you may know, big data and predictive modeling are getting pretty darn good at predicting the brands or products an individual might want to buy. It is not hard to imagine a day (perhaps not not too far into the future) where retailers are so good at predicting that they know what we want or need before we do. Target stores already knows what brand of shampoo a customer buys — and that they buy it once a month. So what if they just placed an order for us and shipped it out? Would people be interested in this service?

Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein was curious. So he commissioned a survey and asked people. He appears surprised to discover that about a third of American consumers would be comfortable with stores sending us stuff it thought we wanted. You can read the details of his study in “Shopping Made Psychic” (New York Times, August 20, 2014).

I don’t think we are too far from very accurate systems that will predict our needs and wants. What are the implications of that for retail stores? What about consumer privacy?


Seth’s Blog: Worthless (priceless)

Posted by joe

Another of Seth Godin’s interesting observations in “Worthless (priceless)” (September 11, 2014). This idea might be interesting to discuss in class when you discuss value.

What examples can you give of something priceless transformed into something worthless? What about something worthless becoming priceless?


What lessons can marketers take away from the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge?

Posted by joe

We have all enjoyed the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge over the last few weeks — with their attention on social media, many of our students have seen more buckets dumped than us. But what lessons we can take away from this viral smash hit?

This article in AdAge begins to answer the question, “What [they think] Marketers Can Learn From the Ice Bucket Challenge?” (August 20, 2014). The article also offers some background and history of the Ice Bucket Challenge. One of the earliest video launching the phenomenon is shown below (see article for more details).

While the Ice Bucket Challenge has been wildly successful in helping ALS raise awareness and money — it may also be interesting to discuss how ALS might leverage this success going forward as well as what opportunities it might have missed. The article suggests an in-post donation button in Facebook might have generated even more money for ALS. What other ideas can your students think of?


“Why does movie popcorn cost so much?”

Posted by joe

moviepopcornAmerican Public Media’s Marketplace radio show recently asked (and answered) “Why does popcorn at the movies cost so much?” (August 4, 2014, you can listen or read the transcript). While I thought I knew the whole answer, I only knew half. Check if you know the whole answer – and perhaps use this as a discussion topic when you cover pricing.

Can you think of some other reasons why movie popcorn costs so much?


What majors do employers look for most?

Posted by joe

iStock_000012645257XSmallSo what are the bachelor’s degree majors most sought after by employers? This article at Yahoo! EducationMajors That Employers Look For The Most” lists and describes a “Top 10″ and includes a brief description of each major and “Why Employers Love It.” Marketing made the list, coming in at #9.  Many other business majors also made this list, including finance (#1), computer and information systems (#2), accounting (#3), business administration and management (#4), management information systems (#6), and economics (#10). The ranking comes from a survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) which surveyed employers and asked what degrees they were keeping an eye  out for.

You might find this article relevant if you are preparing a personal marketing plan or in business school trying to sort out your major.


What is the value of a college education? Insights from Google’s hiring chief

Posted by joe

This New York Times article “How to Get a Job at Google, Part 2” (April 19, 2014) has generated some buzz about the value of college. I particularly like Cathy Davidson’s comments at the HASTAC blog (April 20, 2014).  We provided a brief discussion of the topic on a Learn the 4 Ps post about a month ago, see “Where do you want to work?” (March 21, 2014). The NYT article features an interview with Laszlo Bock who is in charge of all hiring at Google.

I think the articles and Davidson’s commentary should be thought-provoking for current or soon-to-be college students. It suggests how to leverage college to your advantage.


Honey Maid Graham Crackers Celebrates Diversity – Risks? Rewards?

Posted by joe

300Honey Maid brand just launched a new television ad (“This is wholesome”) that celebrates diversity and features a same-sex couple with their baby, an interracial couple holding hands on a walk with their kids, and an African-American father with three mixed race children. Is America ready for this? Is Honey Maid’s target market ready for this?

We could debate the social ramifications here – but that is fodder for another blog. This blog focuses on marketing strategy. So let’s examine this as a business decision for Honey Maid — not a political statement. For some background, check out this article at USA TodayDiversity reaches new levels in Honey Maid ads” (March 10, 2014).

So what do you think are the risks Honey Maid is taking here? What are the potential rewards? How could you mitigate the risk and maximize the reward?


Need a reason to smile? Check out the “Unsung Hero” – great advice leads to great marketing

Posted by joe

Screen Shot 2014-04-07 at 9.21.38 AMThe Thai Life Insurance Company has produced a video that is beginning to take the Internet by storm. This clearly demonstrates two qualities important for viral success — generating emotion and telling a story. This story needs only a little translation — which is provided with subtitles. It will surely bring a smile to your face.

Will it sell more life insurance? Why? or why not?


Where do you want to work?

Posted by joe

google_betterFortune‘s annual “Best Companies to Work For” issue published last month. Google still tops the list with many financial institutions — which took a hit with the recent recession — climbing back up again.

Have you developed your personal marketing plan? Do you have a marketing strategy to get the job of your dreams? These articles will help you get started — as you can learn more about potential target “customers” (employers) and get some marketing strategy (job-hunting) tips.

In that same issue of Fortune, you can find “16 great secrets from Best Companies recruiters” and “They’re hiring” which features 24 companies that plan to fill 1000 or more jobs each in 2014.  To add to this treasure trove of job-seeking advice, see “How to Get a Job at Google” (The New York Times, February 22, 2014) and some additional advice that will apply to getting a job most anyplace.


Growing food below the city reduces logistics costs

Posted by joe

timthumb 2This article “Vast underground bomb shelter reappropriated by urban farmers” (Wired.com, February 11, 2014), describes an innovative new “farm” located  100 feet below ground in southwest London. Zero Carbon Food uses a World War II bomb shelter designed to hold 8000 people. Fortunately it has not been needed since WWII and it has laid dormant — until now that is. A couple of entrepreneurs are growing broccoli, pak choi, and more using hydroponic growing techniques. One of the benefits — low shipping costs (something to talk about when you cover logistics) — and certainly appeals to the environmentally conscious segment of the market.

What other benefits could Zero Carbon leverage? What suggestions do you have for Zero Carbon’s distribution strategy?